Joanna Carrington (1931-2003)
Cornflowers in Blue Mug
signed with initials,
oil on board,
12¼ x 12¼ inches
New Grafton Gallery, 10 Nov 1982
Click on image to expand
Any account of Joanna Carrington's life will of course refer to her aunt Dora Carrington, the Bloomsbury painter and her father Noel who designed and created the Puffin brand for Penguin Books. This should not, however, overshadow her achievements as a painter.
At 16, she attended the Benton End School under Cedric Morris who reported to her mother, "That child of yours is a born painter. I have never had a student who showed so much, I might even say as much, promise". He continued to encourage her throughout her career, sending her telegrams whenever she had an exhibition in London. This was followed by the more intensive tutelage of the Cubist painter Fernand Leger in Paris whose encouragement was apparently only forthcoming when the work resembled his own. Leger's influence can be seen in her use of line and composition.
On her return to London, she attended the Central School of Art where her tutors included Keith Vaughan, Mervyn Peake and Louis le Brocquy. She was awarded the Queen's Scholarship and was selected for the exhibition, "Six Young Contemporaries" at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in 1952.
She exhibited throughout her life with her first solo exhibition at the Establishment Gallery in 1962 and subsequent shows at the Crane Kalman, Grosvenor and Thackeray galleries. She also exhibited under the pseudonym " Reginald Pepper" at the Portal Gallery, painting in a naive style inspired by the work of the "primitive" painter Alfred Wallis. She maintained this alter ego, which gathered a cult following, until her cover was blown by the Sunday Times in 1981.
She lived in France with her second husband, the artist, writer and film-maker, Christoper Mason ultimately settling at St Savin near Poitiers in an old mill which they had lovingly restored.